Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End / Edition 25

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Widely regarded as a classic on the Vietnam War, Decent Interval provides a scathing critique of the CIA's role in and final departure from that conflict. Still the most detailed and respected account of America's final days in Vietnam, the book was written at great risk and ultimately at great sacrifice by an author who believed in the CIA's cause but was disillusioned by the agency's treacherous withdrawal, leaving thousands of Vietnamese allies to the mercy of an angry enemy. A quarter-century later, it remains a riveting and powerful testament to one of the darkest episodes in American history.

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Editorial Reviews

Gloria Emerson
The value of Snepp's book is that it teaches us, in an absorbing and brilliant manner, where the mistakes were made in the CIA and in the highest ranks of officials. . . . Even the most ardent critics of the war could not have ever guessed what Snepp the [CIA] insider has revealed.
Library Journal
Snepp, a CIA operative in Saigon, offers a firsthand account of the agency's role in the Vietnam War. He points many a finger at his superiors. While the latter tried to suppress this book, it was met with acclaim by the leading review media. This 25th-anniversary edition includes a new foreword by National Book Award-winning writer Gloria Emerson. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700612130
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Edition description: Anniversary
  • Edition number: 25
  • Pages: 634
  • Sales rank: 805,023
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword, Gloria Emerson

Preface to the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition

Preface to the First Edition

Principle Cast of Characters

Part 1: First Rites


A Great Day

In Good Faith

Leaves from a Pocket Notebook

Son of Cease-Fire

Martin's Embassy

Nibblers and Anti-Nibblers

Fiscal Whores

Part 2: The Unraveling

Improvisatory Offensive

A Thousand Cuts


Pyrrhic Victories

Blossoming Lotus

Light at the Top

Glass Mountain

Black Box

Cannonball to Papa Lima

Ides of March

Piece of My Tongue

Part 3: Collapse

Primary Responsibility

Limp Little Rags

The Bombing


Eagle Pull

Discarded Luxury

Worst Case

Controlled Conditions

Panic Button

A Bargain Whose Day Has Passed

Secret Caller

Polarized Thinking

High-Class Chauffeur

Our Turn

They're in the Halls




Postscript: Internal Hemorrhaging

CIA's Official Recommendation for Honor and Merit Award for Frank Snepp


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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2002

    Insider's Look At American Perfidy In Fall Of Vietnam!

    When this book was originally published in the late 1970s, it caused a firestorm of controversy due to its savage critique of the conduct of both the CIA and military advisory units within Vietnam. Written by a career CIA officer who resigned in disgust over the ways in which American policy both undermined and betrayed the very purposes we were supposed to be in Vietnam to promote, the book quickly became an international best-seller. Frank Snepp was the chief strategy analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency in Saigon, and from his unique vantage point was able to discern most of policy discussions regarding the American approach to the ongoing conduct of the war assistance being provided to the South Vietnamese. What he discovered alarmed and surprised him, for the authorities were making plans to allow the fall of the Saigon regime even while reassuring their Vietnamese clients they would support them to the very end. As the title of the book indicates, the most salient characteristic of the American policy was to withdraw our forces in such a way as to allow a sufficient amount of time to go by before the North Vietnamese forces made a final fatal thrust into the south to take over, so that America would save face by not directly involved in the action resulting in the losing of the decade-long war. Instead, according to this strategy, there was to be a so-called "decent interval" of time separating the associated events of American withdrawal on the one hand, and the final campaign by the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) forces, on the other. Snepp was outraged by the treachery involved in such a strategy, and argued strenuously against thus, which would leave hundreds if not thousand of ardent and loyal South Vietnamese operatives at extreme risk, for they would be caught unaware when the final critical days came that the American forces would not come to their rescue. Snepp was even more surprised when he discovered that this strategy was not either the result of a local CIA operative such as the station chief, nor that of the CIA itself at the Langley, Virginia headquarters, but rather that it appeared to emanate from the highest levels of the executive branch of the government, from the office of Henry Kissinger and the office of the National Security Advisor to the President. This meant, of course, that it was a deliberate betrayal of the South Vietnamese by the American Government with full knowledge of the savage consequences this action would have for most of those who had worked so closely with the Americans for so long. For Snepp, this was treachery of the lowest and most unforgivable sort, a policy that served to punish our friends and reward our enemies, all done in the name of political expediency. Of course, in order to be effective, this strategy must remain secret, for having such information made public would expose both the Executive branch and the CIA for the craven treachery they were conspiring to commit. Thus, the press releases associated with the rapidly accomplished American withdrawal of troop, material and advisors were spun to give the public the impression that all of this was part of the so-called successful "Vietnamization" of the war, under which the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) was increasingly shouldering the exclusive burden for conduct of the war against the NVA. What both the CIA and the U.S. Army command authority hoped for was a campaign in which the ARVN performed well enough to make the eventual NVA victory appear to be more gradual than it was feared it might be. Of course, after the hasty American withdrawal, the NVA rapidly pressed their advantage and the ARVN collapsed so rapidly that no such "decent interval" was realized. Instead, the campaign took a disastrous turn, and the final result was a panic for the American loyalists now trapped in Saigon with little hope of rescue. The rest, as they say, is the stuff of history. Yet the facts laid out by Sne

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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